When A24’s “The Farewell” broke “Avengers: Endgame’s” record for per-theater-average upon its limited release in July, writer/director Lulu Wang was at home in Los Angeles, trying to ignore the news.
“It’s hard for me to listen to that good without listening to the bad, so I kind of just choose to block it all out,” Wang told Variety.
The comedic drama, which stars Awkwafina as a fictionalized version of Wang, goes into wide release Aug. 2.
Based on an actual lie from Wang’s own life — about her family not telling her grandmother that she had stage-IV lung cancer — the film has garnered critical claim since making its debut at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and even the attention of fellow filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, whom Wang had a chance encounter with in Hollywood recently.
“He was like, ‘Yeah, I know about your movie. I was like, ‘What? Did you just say you know about my movie?’” she recalled.
But developing the film proved to be an uphill battle for the Chinese American director: would-be producers pressured her to change its primary spoken language to English and make some characters white. The end-product — a movie that’s primarily in Mandarin with an almost exclusively Asian-led cast — is a result of Wang doubling down on her vision and turning down collaborators who felt otherwise.
“It’s completely empowering,” said Wang of pushing for the version “The Farewell” that she wanted to make. “I think that it’s hard to quantify the value of that empowerment until you actually just feel it, and you go, ‘Oh, this is everything.’”